(FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.) – The holidays are a time to give thanks and appreciate the blessings in one's life. The members of the USA South Athletic Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) realized that not everyone is as fortunate as they are and wanted to do something to help make it a happier holiday in their communities. And so Cans Across the Conference was initiated in 2004.
SAAC organized the canned food drive as a community service competition amongst the nine institutions in the USA South. Each campus SAAC collected cans and other non-perishable items at their school from mid-October through November 21 to benefit a local charity. It was up to each institution to decide how they wanted to collect and to which group the donation would go. The institution with the most items collected would be crowned the Cans Across the Conference Champion. Overall, the USA South institutions collected 19,069 items! Over the three-year history of the program, USA South Conference institutions have donated 44,730 items to various organizations. This USA South annual event has surpassed the previous year's total each time. This drive saw the Conference collect 2,450 more items than last year. With an grand total of 6,491 items, Christopher Newport University is the Cans Across the Conference Champion for 2006. Last year's champion, Greensboro College came in second with 3,880 items while 2004 champ Methodist University, totaled 3,003 items which was good for third place. The Captains will be presented with their trophy at a later date.
The institutions got creative when finding ways to collect cans. Methodist University, as they did last year, made it an intra-collegiate affair. They had a competition amongst all the teams in the athletic department to see who could collect the most cans. The women's basketball team came out on top in this friendly competition. Peace College was able to get its staff, faculty and students involved by distributing flyers. They also went to local grocery stores and asked for a donation of canned foods. Another institution using the local grocery store was Christopher Newport. A local grocery story would donate cans based on the amount of money raised for the local food bank. CNU also went trick or treating for cans during Halloween. Keeping with the grocery store theme, Shenandoah University received gift cards worth $25 from a local grocer to use towards the purchase of canned goods.
The institutions donated their items to various organizations in their local communities. Averett University donated its 192 cans to God's Storehouse, a food bank for the less fortunate in Danville, Va. Christopher Newport made its large donation to the Peninsula Food Bank in Newport News, Va. Ferrum College made its donation of 2,010 items to the St. James Community Center, which offers members of the Franklin County community clothes and food. Greensboro made their huge donation to the Greensboro Urban Ministry. Maryville College donated its 150 cans to the Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee. Methodist donated its amount to the Fayetteville Urban Ministries. N.C. Wesleyan donated its 1,242 items to the United Community Ministries in Rocky Mount, N.C. Peace donated its 938 cans to Urban Ministries of Wake County, which services more than 13,000 families and individuals in the Raleigh, N.C. every year. Shenandoah gave its 1,061 cans to the local Salvation Army. Finally, the USA South Conference Office sent its 102 cans to "Save The Babies" which is an organization helping unwed mothers in Fayetteville, N.C.
"Our SAAC initiated the "Cans Across the Conference" food drive two years ago to assist those less fortunate in their communities," stated USA South Commissioner Rita Wiggs. "I am glad to see the total number of goods donated keeps increasing and hope this trend continues for years to come. We are most appreciative of our student-athletes, coaches and administrators who recognize a need in their communities and support this initiative to enhance the holidays for our fellow citizens."
2006 USA South "Cans Across The Conference" Final Results
Cans 1. Christopher Newport 6,491 2. Greensboro 3,880 3. Methodist 3,003 4. Ferrum 2,010 5. N.C. Wesleyan 1,242 6. Shenandoah 1,061 7. Peace 938 8.
192 9. Maryville 150 10. Conference Office 102